Small signaling molecules that mediate cell-cell communication are essential for developmental regulation in multicellular organisms. Among them are the steroids and peptide hormones that regulate growth in both plants and animals. In plants, brassinosteroids (BRs) are perceived by the cell surface receptor kinase BRI1, which is distinct from the animal steroid receptors. Identification of components of the BR signaling pathway has revealed similarities to other animal and plant signal transduction pathways. Recent studies demonstrated that tomato BRI1 (tBRI1) perceives both BR and the peptide hormone systemin, raising new questions about the molecular mechanism and evolution of receptor-ligand specificity.